Okay, so I was surfing the web trying to find some inspiration to write, looking around at clichés and such, and came across the old pretend-to-be-a-couple-and-conveniently-fall-in-love. So, of course, I had to do it…I love clichés. Sorry if you don't I'm up for other story suggestions!
Disclaimer: I do not own Assassin's Creed, or anything associated with it.
"I don't understand! Why am I being placed on this assignment? Information!? I am no novice! I do not have time to be crawling around the streets doing a job any half-wit-"
"Altair! Hold your tongue! You forget your place."
His mouth closed shut with an audible clack. He took a step back, bowing his head in anger as a flush crawled up to his cheeks. A novice mission? For him? He was Masyaf's greatest assassin – greater than Al Mualim himself, some whispered. Altair was inclined to believe it, though Malik said it was merely a deflection for people avoiding his wrath.
But he had the skills to back it up, the technique behind the blade, and he had offered to defend his reputation on plenty of accounts. They were both still smarting bruises from the last encounter.
Al Mualim slammed his hands on his desk.
"It is not a novice assignment, though with your recent arrogance I am on the verge of demoting you!"
Altair stepped forward at that, but a discreet hand on the back of his robes held him in place. The assassin looked over his shoulder, prepared to send a scathing comment Malik's way, but the look on his rival's face stopped him. He looked almost…concerned. Altair focused back on Al Mualim. He was pissed.
"As it is, however," the old man said, turning to pace the length of his desk, "you are the only one I trust to obtain this information. Allah knows why – I cannot understand how you accomplish the tasks I give you with your rash way of reacting to every situation."
Altair stepped forward angrily, tearing away from the hand that moved to his shoulder.
"It is not rashness that guides my movements, but confidence." He said, his fists clenched tightly, betraying the will that he exerted to keep himself from defending his honor physically.
Malik let out a hopeless sigh from behind him, which he chose to ignore. He knew how his rival (and friend as well, he could not forget that even in these moments) felt about his outspoken tendencies, and he thought it stupid. How was one supposed to defend himself in battle if he could not even hold at bay the verbal slights? How did an assassin maintain the respect of his peers if his worth was questioned?
It didn't make sense, but Malik always had a strange way of looking at things. He thought that it took strength to hold back from angry retorts. Altair knew, however, that he was wrong.
It took strength to defend his honor against the jealousy of old man of Masyaf.
Al Mualim halted mid-stride, seeming to have come to some sort of conclusion. He turned to Altair, mouth pursed and eyes angry, and said simply, "Malik will go with you."
"What?!" he cried involuntarily, "It is a simple mission! I do not need him to-"
The master cut him off with a sword-like motion of his arm.
"He will go with you, and that is final. Now go, ready yourselves and meet Kadar at the entrance to the city. I will have him give you the details of the assignment. I cannot deal with you now." He turned abruptly, robes twirling, signally an obvious close to the conversation.
"Altair. Let us go."
Malik's eyes were demanding as he said this, his first words of the night. Neither he nor Al Mualim had left room for argument, but Altair would not cave. He would make room.
"We are not done." He seethed.
The expression on Al Mualim's face when he turned around was the sign that he had gone too far. He quailed slightly, hesitated, jaw clenched tightly even as he turned to the door.
They were done. He would go…but not quietly.
Allah help him if, when he got back, there wouldn't be hell to pay. He expected there to be a political assassination awaiting him on his return home, if only to reassert his position in the brotherhood. If there wasn't, well…perhaps then, Al Mualim would be willing to defend his reputation against the rumors.
He was growing old…Altair was better…It was time he stepped down and a new leader guided Masyaf…
He would see.
Altair turned huffily and exited ahead of Malik, conscious of the cutting figure he made as he left the stronghold. He passed by the stairs leading to his, Malik, and Kadar's quarters. There was nothing he needed in their room. There was nothing he had left to do, besides say farewell to Kadar, as he usually did. It was a surprise Al Mualim hadn't assigned him as well. The man seemed to go out of his way to insult Altair's capabilities.
"Altair, slow down!" Malik came jogging up to his side, a travel sack in hand that he hadn't had before, "Honestly, your anger will get you nowhere but dead. Where are your things? Why are you so eager to leave?"
"I do not need comforts on my travels."
Even as he said the words, he winced at what he was sure would be a cutting response. He'd been snubbing Malik particularly harshly today, and, despite the fact that the bastard deserved it, he knew he'd get a licking.
"Comforts?" Malik snarled, throwing his hands up in the air in an uncharacteristic show of his frustration, "What is wrong with you?! You've been acting like a complete asshole the whole day! I wonder at your sanity in times like this, and how it is you have retained your rank for as long as you have."
He glared at his friend steadily, but he knew what kind of a mood Altair was in. There was nothing he could do to budge the idiot from his opinions when he had that look in his eyes. It was like getting Kadar to practice pick pocketing.
'But why should I practice picking someone's pockets when they're alive, when I can just kill them and take all their things?'
That's what Malik got for letting him hang out with Altair so often.
"Fine." He said to Altair, "You're right! An assassin as great as you has no needs of such comforts as food for the journey and a woolen cloak for the freezing nights ahead."
The master assassin snorted. He could find something to eat along the way. The nights weren't that cold, either. Malik was just being a woman. He decided to voice this particular fact.
His friend's response to this was to simply throw his hands up once more, before storming off down the hill alone. Altair waited a moment before following him. He didn't want it to seem like Malik was the one leading.
Strangely enough, Kadar was already waiting off to the side of the road when they arrived. He was panting slightly, which Altair supposed meant he must have run there. Honestly, the boy was so frightened of Al Mualim that sometimes Altair worried what he would be willing to do for the old man. What a fool the boy was.
Perhaps he was just being vindictive, he thought to himself. Kadar was a good enough boy. It might have been the inactivity of his recent time that was getting to his thoughts. Perhaps he was being cruel for no reason but because there was nothing better to do.
Or not. His sudden moment of consideration passed and he glared over at the anxious boy. He was being forced on a stupid, novice-level, information-gathering mission. He had a right to be angry, and to take it out on whomever he pleased.
The fearful look on Kadar's face made him amend that thought. Perhaps he'd wait until he was on the road, and start another argument with Malik to blow off some steam.
"Kadar, my friend, your speed and devotion never fail to amaze me. You've beaten us here even having just gotten Al Mualim's orders."
Just as Altair had known he would, the boy flushed a deep, cherry red. Malik shot him a look of exasperation and contempt. How had he managed to switch moods so quickly?
"He told me to hurry, Altair," Kadar said, eyes flickering anxiously between the ground and his face, "I knew that you would be eager to leave, and didn't wish to delay you."
"Not at all," Altair smiled easily, "Time has been saved by you relaying the message. I would have gone to find you in order to say farewell."
Kadar's face turned a deeper red, somehow. He mumbled something before Malik stepped forward to get things moving.
"The orders, Kadar." he bit out shortly, "Despite what Altair says, we are in a hurry."
Altair opened his mouth to remind him who it was who had been lagging behind earlier, but Malik cut him off with a pair of narrowed eyes his way. He bared his teeth slightly in response, but quieted all the same. The faster they got moving, the faster he could end this. And when he came back, then he would get what was his.
Kadar didn't notice his evil, greedy smile. He was already rattling off the orders Al Mualim had given him to relay.
"The master said that the man you are looking for is living in a little villa roughly three hundred kilometers to the northeast. The festival you will be attending is in celebration of his marriage t-"
"Kadar," Malik said gently, "Please, leave the bigger things. What we do not know is our specific orders for the assignment."
Kadar nodded anxiously, "Of course, brother," he said, "You are to take one of the carriages to the villa-"
"What?!" Altair exclaimed for the second time that evening, effectively cutting him off, "A carriage? Why waste time when we could simply gallop there on singular horses? We would be there in half the time!"
Malik shot him a dirty look, but Kadar only spoke quicker, eager to defend Al Mualim's plan and appease Altair.
"The master wants you well rested for the festival, minds clear in order to act your roles well. You are to play the part of nobles, and stay close to Khalid Al-Rashad and his circle of close friends. The festival you are attending is relatively intimate, considering the nature of the celebration, so everyone there will be close. The two men you are playing have been in correspondence with Al-Rashad through letters for the past fifteen years. They have never met face to face, so it should be an easy part to play. The information should be simple to extract."
"Simple?" Altair asked hotly, "Then why place a master assassin on this assignment?"
Despite the fact that this was obviously a rhetorical question, Kadar stuttered out an answer.
"Well, I imagine he trusted you to do it despite any…despite how…uncomfortable, you may find the, uh…situation…" his face was red again.
"Uncomfortable?" Altair asked in confusion, and looked over to see Malik wearing a similar expression, "What do you mean by this? What do we have to do?" he paused, "Who are we?"
Kadar looked at the ground again, imitating a tomato and curiously avoiding the eye of his brother, in particular.
"I thought Al Mualim would have told you. It is strange to have to do it myself. I did not w-"
"Spit it out!" Malik demanded impatiently, his brows furrowed.
Kadar hesitated for a moment before looking up at Altair, his ears bright red from all the blood rushing to his face.
"You will be playing the parts of Amir and Makhi, two lovers that have been in corres-"
"Lovers?!" Altair cried, "Lovers? But how is this?! Malik and I are rivals! Friends on good days, I…we are assassins! How are we to pretend to be in love? Al Mualim is fucked up! If he thinks I am going to do this then he has lost all form of sanity!" he turned to his friend, "Malik, let us go. We will confront the master as to this madness."
However, when he faced Malik, he saw the pursed lips and hard resolve in the assassin's face. It surprised him, and he could not grasp the idea that his friend was actually considering going along with this.
"Malik, what are you thinking? You cannot seriously be willing to partake in this?"
The man looked up to meet his dark eyes with his own chocolate brown orbs. His glance was curious.
"Al Mualim spoke of a demotion. I do not wish to risk my rank simply because I must stand at your arm for a few days." He said with resolve, "It is odd that you would. I know your love for the name 'master'."
Altair frowned at him. What was he saying? It didn't seem as though he fully understood all that Al Mualim was asking of them. It wasn't just a matter of standing beside one another. Lovers slept together, they…kissed. They confessed their love to each other frequently and held hands and…and…
He tried to banish from his mind the image of Malik leaning over, his smooth lips brushing over Altair's own chapped ones, the slight dusting of skin on skin, and how warm his dark hands would be as he held Altair's face to his…
The thought brought him up short. His collar was too tight all of a sudden, and he felt all hot and uncomfortable. It was horrible, he thought. He would not survive an hour of it, nevermind a whole two days.
"We will simply be playing the parts," Malik said with an eyebrow raised as he watched his friend, "Your reluctance to participate is curious. Perhaps it hits too close to home?"
There was a short silence on the side of the road. The carriages near the stables were loud with activity, but it seemed far away. He felt deaf from shock at the accusation. Was Malik insinuating that Altair…? His face flushed – with anger, more than embarrassment.
Suddenly, Kadar burst into laughter, staring up at his own brother with dark cheeks and a guilty expression. He seemed to be enjoying this, strangely enough. His eyes were bright with merriment and…something else.
Altair wasn't paying much attention. He was still having troubles wrapping his head around what Malik had said. What kind of a friend would accuse another of that? He hadn't done anything strange, had he? Malik didn't think that he enjoyed their sparring matches in a…different way…did he?
He snapped his mouth shut, realizing that it had been hanging open slightly.
What was he supposed to say? He wasn't even sure if Malik was being serious. What kind of a response could he give to that?
"That's absurd." He grunted.
But Malik was already moving to the center of the road, where one of the carriages was approaching. His steps were light and jovial, and it was clear that he was only half-listening to Altair. It bothered the master assassin that his friend glossed over something so easily that would probably nag his thoughts for the entirety of the journey. He wanted him to suffer with him.
"Malik." He tried, tailing after his friend.
He stopped when he saw the carriage,
"What is that?"
"Why, it's your luxurious ride, my lords," the man in the front of the carriage answered, eyes twinkling and a cheeky grin plastered on his face, "Fit for the lovers of Masyaf."
Altair's face heated up in embarrassment as he stared at the beastly thing. It was death on wheels. It was ugly.
…purple. The back tarp was open and the contents of the thing could be seen, all plush, vibrant pillows with gold embroidery and large, garish tassels. The walls were draped with purple and red satin; the floor was covered in cushions and one gigantic, linen blanket the color of a rotten plum. There wasn't an inch of wood to be seen. It looked like a little girl had thrown up all her dreams into the back of the carriage.
He physically recoiled from the sight.
"Fit for the lovers of Masyaf?" he spat, his nose crunched up in revulsion, "What nonsense is that? How fast can we get out of here? Before anyone sees?"
The driver didn't answer, he was busy looking back at the city, and Altair had a feeling he knew why.
He followed the man's gaze apprehensively, dimly aware of a loud noise coming from Masyaf. It sounded like the squealing of a bunch of young fan girls, but he realized as he turned that it was a crowd of men – of full grown, high ranking assassins, to be exact. They were all wearing huge, goofy smiles on their stupid faces, arms waved and waving farewell. Some of them were laughing.
He wanted to pull his hidden blade on their asses.
Looking over at Malik, he saw that the other man was equally as embarrassed, though there was a slight twinkle in his eye. Was he…getting off on this?
…He was probably laughing at poor Altair's expense. What a bastard.
Without another glance in the direction of his terrible goodbye party, Altair jumped into the back of the cushiony hell and sat as proudly as he could on a bright pink cushion. He fumed while he waited for Malik to say goodbye to his brother, and didn't bother to wave back when Kadar yelled over the swelling crowd.
The little asshole deserved to be whacked upside the head. But, more than anything else, Altair was fuming at the evil Master of Masyaf, and his sinister plans. If this was his idea of humbling Altair…well, he was gong to show him. Let them laugh at the pink cushions and metallic tassels all they wanted. He would get the information in no time, and come back earlier with Al-Rashad's head.
He would get Malik as well, of course. If he had to suffer, then so would his friend. So would the men at the festival. Hell, he'd dowse the place in hot oil and set the flowers and linens afire.
Altair sighed and moved to close the back tarp, angry at himself as his stomach started to rumble. He banished the thoughts of revenge and curled up under the singular blanket, fully intent on being unconscious the whole trip.
The blanket wasn't very big…
It was a little chilly…
Altair looked over at Malik, who was watching him with dark, twinkling eyes and a huge, vicious smile.
Fuck you, Altair thought. It wasn't that cold, really…
So, that was my first chapter…I don't know how long it's going to go, where it's going to end, or what's going to happen in between. I like suggestions, just to let everyone know. I don't know if most people have the thing planned out in their head when they go to write it. I usually have the main framework down, but I love little ideas people give me.
If you want to see something happen, tell me. I really do appreciate it. Whether or not I do it, well, that depends on what it is.
Anyway, I hope you like it. There are far too few Altair/Malik stories out there. ADD TO THEM! Please. And Ezio/Leonardo and Desmond/Shaun as well.